Podcast

Episode 76: Ecom Crew Changes

I’m sure our listeners have noticed that Grant hasn’t been on the podcast lately. The reason for this is Grant has moved on to do other things. We agreed that he should follow his new direction, so he has left the podcast. Our friendship remains strong.

However, I am happy to announce that Dave Bryant will be joining me on Ecom Crew!

Dave is the founder of chineseimporting.com, a blog for newcomers to the importing business. His focus is, of course, China, but his business is starting to shift to e-commerce. This change is something that we feel will be a good fit for Ecom Crew.

Dave has made it clear that he won’t do the podcast every week, but he writes awesome content. We also have plans to launch a course in late August, maybe early September. There are some great ideas in the pipeline and we’re very excited about it!

Here are some of the points we discussed today:

  • Grant’s new direction.
  • Dave’s transition into Ecom Crew.
  • Dave’s background in Chinese imports and international business.
  • Why we think this merger will be good for Ecom Crew.
  • How we plan to grow our audience.
  • The upcoming courses.
  • What I hope for the future.

Just a reminder, I will be speaking at some events this year. Here is a list of those events.

  1. Ecommerce All Stars — Austin, TX, August 4-5.
  2. Global Sources — Hong Kong, October 17-19.
  3. EcommerceFuel Live — Laguna Beach, CA, January 11-13, 2018.

This episode is sponsored by Stamped.io. We have recently switched to Stamped.io, so we can get the most out of our reviews, and they have a really great product. We are proud to partner with them and there is a link below to check them out.

We also do live episodes on Facebook, but there won’t be a live episode for a couple of weeks. We do have some pre-recorded episodes done for you. To get in on the live episodes, just like our Facebook page.

Resources Mentioned Today:

Chineseimporting.com

Color It

Ecom Crew

Ecom Crew Facebook Page

Ecom Crew Course

Ecommerce All Stars

Ecommerce Fuel Live

Global Sources

Stamped.io

If you have any questions or anything you’d like us to discuss on the podcast you can now email us directly at ecomcrew.com!  Just send those emails to [email protected]. Also, we would really appreciate if you would leave us a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

Full Audio Transcript

Mike: This is Mike, and welcome to the EcomCrew podcast number 76. As I mentioned in last week’s episode we have a pretty big announcement this week. I’m pretty excited and we have a special guest who is going to be turning into more than just a special guest. We’ll be talking about that in a second.

But before I get started, just a reminder that the EcomCrew Podcast is sponsored by stamped.io. If you guys need reviews for your Shopify store, definitely head over to stamped.io and check them out. We are using that now for all of our platforms, or all of our online stores, just to say that we’re on Shopify and it’s been working great. We are several weeks into this.

And as I mentioned in previous episodes, pretty soon we will put together an episode just on stamped.io for review once I have the time to do that. I’m actually going to be hopping on a plane here shortly after recording this and heading to Alaska for a couple of weeks backpacking. So the next couple of week’s episodes are pre-recorded and when I get that we’ll try to get that stamped.io episode in.

So moving on to the main subject for today. As you guys have probably noticed, Grant has not really been on the podcast a lot lately. Grant and I sat down and talked about that recently and mostly because he’s kind of really moved into doing a lot of brick and mortar stuff. He has a few franchises that have kind of taken of, doing well for him, but they also require a lot of time. Him and I have discussed jokingly that he basically has bought a job. So making sandwiches, and cinnamon rolls and stuff like this, and managing people that don’t show up to work a lot.

He’s still doing ecommerce but it’s definitely not his focus anymore. We really just kind of sat down and had a heart to heart on this, and decided to just kind of part ways on the podcast part of it and EcomCrew part of it. There is no real good drama if you guys are looking for a good story, or trying to catch us when I’m drunk one day. If you are looking for a good story there really isn’t one other than the one I just told you. Grant and I are still best friends, really good friends. I’ve known Gant for almost 15 years. The conversation was really easy. I could kind of sense that he was just not really doing much with ecommerce anymore and just didn’t have the time to do the podcast.

So that kind of brings in our guest today who is Dave Bryant who has been a guest on this podcast a couple of times. And actually after Dave recorded with me a couple of weeks ago, I just sat down with Dave. I was like, “Look hey man, like Grant is going to be leaving EcomCrew. I know you are already running a site doing some stuff, teaching people about Ecommerce, mostly bringing stuff in from china. I think it could potentially be a good fit. Let’s talk about it.” And we did and just kind of agreed to merge both of those properties together. And Dave is going to be like basically a permanent picture now with EcomCrew, doing not weekly podcasts with me. This is something that we talked about upfront; Dave does not want to do weekly podcasts. But the good news is that Dave loves writing content, and I don’t really particularly love writing content.

So I think it’s going to be a good fit. And now that I have given a long winded introduction, let me bring Dave in and welcome him officially to Ecomcrew. How is it going Dave?

Dave: Very good and yeah, so I’m going to be here permanently now.

Mike: Yeah, definitely awesome to have you. And we have a bunch of talk about today just kind of about our future plans, and what we are planning on doing. But let’s talk first about Chineseimporting.com, which is a site that you’ve been running now for I guess about what? Three or four years Dave?

Dave: Yeah, I think I probably registered the domain in 2012. I started taking it a little bit more seriously in 2014, 2015. And yeah, that’s a couple of years. And I’ve progressively been dedicating more and more time to it. Especially in the last year or two, it’s really started to take off.

Mike: Yeah, and I think that before we merge things together here, it’s actually kind of funny; we are kind of in a transition period. There’s still going to be Grant’s intro in the podcast, and Grant’s on the website. Again there was no real feud or anything that happened so we are not in any rush to get that fixed. But hopefully over the next couple of weeks we will get that fixed.

And one thing we will be doing is merging all the content from Chinese Importing over to EcomCrew and kind of making a home for it under like an importing tab on the blog. But kind of talk about some of the stuff you’ve written about over there Dave, and like what you feel your expertise is, and what the blog really focused on?

Dave: Yeah, so I mean I guess I’ll give some background on the blog. So like I mentioned, I started it in around 2012, took it seriously around 2015 and most of the content has pretty much been around importing and private labeling products from China. That developed quite a following–people who are also in that same boat, importing from china, that over the last few years or so I’ve really noticed that a lot of the people now are really interested in a more broader topic. Like once they brought their products from China, that’s great, but they also want a little bit of help selling the products.

And I kind of feel that folks on the site shifting a little bit from just China and importing only, to a little bit broader into the whole Ecom realm. So I think the topics were probably split a little last year, about 75, maybe 80% Chinese or Chinese importing only and then the other 20% were a lot of ecommerce articles specifically a lot with Amazon. So when basically you let me know that Grant was moving on to other things, I thought, jeez that’s the perfect fit, because I know the direction of Chinese importing was going to have to become more broad, and focus a little bit more in the ecommerce as well.

And so I think joining kind of our two great powers so to speak. You know joining your Ecom expertise, and my importing expertise, I think it makes a really great merge of content and podcast, and all the other stuff that goes with running these types of entities. And so I think it’s going to be a better experience for everybody kind of visiting the site and listening to the podcast.

Mike: Yeah, I think it’s going got be awesome. I’m going to run in the other room as soon as we get down recording this, and let my wife know that I’m now like great power. Let’s see how far that goes for me, probably not very far. But yeah, no I think it’s a great fit. And we’ve also, just kind of behind the scenes as we started talking about this, agreed to beef up the Chinese importing class that you’ve been teaching online for I guess a couple of years as well, right. When did that launch?

Dave: Yeah, I mean I guess that launched about a year ago. It switched to a new platform, and I put a lot more time into it I guess about, well basically after I sold my company. So that’s when I started it. I had nothing to do, so I spent a bunch of time actually really beefing that up. And I hate to be another person of the class, but I’ve seen some of the other classes out there and I know the quality really isn’t up to par, at least with what I would expect the value as a student.

So, my goal wasn’t really to make a ton of money selling another course. It was just really to create the type of course that I would want. And I think it’s usually related to doing a content based site like this compared to running an ecommerce site. It’s definitely a lot more money in running an ecommerce site, but I think the passion end of things kind of comes in running a content side of podcast than doing a course out of it.

So that is kind of how the course transpired. And I think me and you again working together, we can put together an even better class for people that I think, for the amount of money that we’ll charge, they’ll definitely get their money out of it.

Mike: Yeah, I think it’s going to be good stuff. Maybe we’ve obviously already recorded, I don’t know maybe ten, or 15 lessons so far and already wrote the outline. And I’m definitely excited to see what comes up. But we’ve hired a VA in the Philippines. We’ve been talking a lot about that on this podcast on recent episodes, and he’s already given us a couple of sample videos and I’m really impressed just kind of the presentation value of some of these videos.

He’s going to be working on that while I’m on vacation. And we do hope to launch the course, I don’t know, maybe late August or September. These things always kind of end up taking longer than expected. So let’s just say September realistically, but maybe hopefully August.

Dave: I’m trying to hold Mike to August 15th.

Mike: Yeah, good luck. I’m thinking about bears and salmon right now. So when I get back I’ll get…

Dave: I do that every day in Canada Mike.

Mike: Yeah, yeah, that’s supposed to be the joke though, right? An iceberg, he gets to watch out for the icebergs up there.

Dave: The joke and the reality.

Mike: Yeah. So mentioning that actually, let’s talk about that a little bit. Dave is based up in British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada which I think is another cool dynamic between us, because one of the things we are going to be doing this year is expanding internationally on Amazon, because I think that’s a good opportunity. And Dave is actually the one that gave me the kick in the butt to get started on Canada to begin with. So maybe you can just spend a couple of minutes talking about that particular aspect, Dave.

Dave: Yeah, I mean I know the Chinese importing crowd. It’s surprising how big of an audience the international audience is. And I think you know living in North America, living in Canada, we kind of have North America blinders on, like people I care about in Amazon and FBA and selling through ecommerce are North Americans but there is a huge segment of the population even outside of North America that’s incredibly interested in selling their products via ecommerce especially in the US. And of course the main joke is that every Chinese person or factory is interested in selling in America, but there’s a lot of individuals too really interested in selling into America.

So I think I bring that perspective where I am a non-American selling predominantly in America. So I think I can offer that perspective and kind of help people not based in America, kind of get their feet wet into selling into America. And yeah, I mean I think there is still a lot of opportunity in the US marketplace so hopefully I can help non Americans kind of get their feet wet like I said into Amazon.com, and other ecommerce channels in America.

Mike: Yeah, I think that’s the end of the line, and so anyway obviously working on the course, like I mentioned. So if you go to EcomCrew.com/course, you can drop your email on there. We are not going to spam you or anything like we do with all the other things on ColorIt and some of the other stuff. We’ll just let you know when we do launch the course. Anybody who signs up for that mailing list will get a 25% discount if you are interested, and then any other courses that we record.

So basically the first one we are going to be doing is focusing on importing from China and growing a seven figure Amazon business and putting a lot of focus on that narrow focus, right. So it’s not going to be an Amazon selling course or an email marketing course. We’ll do those later.

It’s how to get yourself started–bring your stuff in from China, and dealing with import duties and freight forwarding and how do you pick a niche, and basic stuff getting started on Amazon. But that’s going to be the focus of this first course.

Dave: Yeah, and I think a lot of it too is really developing kick ass products. I think that’s kind of the key to selling. I think it is part of the reason why I have been successful, definitely how you’ve been successful is figuring out that the Amazon secret isn’t that hard. I mean Amazon — their whole business model is created around making it easy for sellers to sell on Amazon. So the important thing is having those great products, and I think that’s really the focus of the course– helping you to develop really great products, which as soon as you add them onto Amazon, and your Shopify site, they are going to sell. So that’s kind of the focus we want to take. It’s not necessarily teaching you any Amazon magic, it’s creating those really kick ass products.

Mike: Yup, and I think that — I’m excited. We just kind of recorded some videos about that specifically, just picking products and stuff, and how to improve upon existing products and make them better and stuff. And I don’t know, I think it’s going to be really cool. Like that part was one of my favorite parts to record.

So then moving forward, Dave and I have talked about some of the other courses we are looking at doing. I think that, long-term, our vision is to have kind of a library of content and courses on here. Things like email marketing. Obviously I do a lot with Klaviyo so kind of going out of the hood and showing the exact email sequences, and copy that we’ve been using for email marketing. Talking about other things like Lead Pages and ClickFunnels and landing pages and free plus shipping offers, and doing something on that.

Let me add a selling course on Amazon. Dave obviously has a lot of experience, and if you listen to our episode about “do we go all in on Amazon or not” he’s certainly all in on Amazon guys. So I think that there is a lot of really cool content we can come up with there. The other thing I think is going to be really cool is that Dave is bringing back the aspect of just some writing content. I mean you are much more prolific than I am writing. I think that is something that the blog has been missing dearly. Just for me the first thing that kind of goes away when I get busy is writing. I’m not — it’s tougher for me than I think it is for you just time-wise. So can we maybe talk about some of the content you think you will be putting out for the blog?

Dave: Yeah, I mean I think a lot of the content will still have that Chinese focus. You know it’s kind of what I built my little personal brand around–trying to pretend to be a Chinese expert. But even aside from the Chinese articles, like I also am going to expand a little bit into ecommerce. But like I mentioned I’m going to still keep that Chinese focus.

And some of the main and most popular articles on Chinese importing right now are things like how to get your shipments from China directly into FBA. How to–you know what kind of qualities to look for in a niche product when you are importing from China, negotiating with suppliers, all that nitty-gritty that has to do with importing.

But again even outside of that I’m going to start to really expand that focus and expand more into ecommerce area. So Amazon, EBay, Shopify, just the ecommerce selling in general. And I think, I think the beautiful thing with having written content and a podcast is that a podcast is really great for keeping an audience sticky. And once somebody finds the EcomCrew podcast, they probably go in to listen in every week. But it’s not a great tool attracting new audience members. And I think that’s where the written content will come in, and it will really help to kind of strengthen the whole EcomCrew community. The written content will help to attract new people. The podcast will hopefully keep people here, just because it’s a little bit easier to consume content and also easier to consume on a regular basis.

Mike: Yup and I think obviously our goal here is to kind of build our audience size, and we’ve done a good job to this point. I mean it’s fun to like kind of look at our backend stats, and see month over month we continue to grow. But definitely as far as search engine ranking is bringing that organic stuff, I definitely agree that that written content can help a lot. So I’m excited to see some of that. And Dave has held my feet to the fire, and made me promise to write some articles once or twice a year. So we’ll see how that goes.

Dave: Yeah well, I think you promised once a month.

Mike: Oh there you go, I forgot that bit already.

Dave: Hopefully the idea is leveraging to hold Mike accountable.

Mike: Where is Mike’s article?

Dave: Yeah, obviously it’s in our interest to have a bigger audience. But I think it’s also in everybody else’s interest, because a bigger audience loves to do things like, hire people. Even we’ve decided to hire a VA full time, and she’s going to really help to kind of polish not just the podcast, but the written content as well. And she’ll also help on a lot of social media stuff, posting things to YouTube, posting a lot of our content, repurposing it through Facebook and other social media channels.

So I think having a bigger audience helps with things like that. Also I think it’s just going to give us a little bit more impetus to actually stay consistent with podcasting and the blog witting. We’ve even talked about potentially having the podcast more frequently from once a week, to maybe twice a week. That’s a pretty big endeavor, but once we have the audience size to support it, I think those types of things become a little bit more realistic and feasible.

Mike: Yeah, definitely agree. And you just mentioned our new VA. I just kind of want to introduce her even though virtually. She’s not obviously on the podcast, but her name is Abby. We are really excited to have her on board. Hopefully she’ll be listening to these episodes, and just kind of getting more familiar with what we are doing on EcomCrew.

But she does also monitor our support at EcomCrew email box now. So if you have any comments or questions about the show, suggestions for topics, we’ve done a lot of Q&A episodes which are my favorites. So if you have any questions that you would love to have answered on the show, we’ll hopefully be more organized now. I mean right now EcomCrew, up to this point has been, it has just been difficult to keep up with all the other things that I’m doing.

So we are excited to have Abby on board kind of helping us to keep organized. It’s really easy when the questions are already in a great format for me to get to. And if there are things that Dave can help out with, we’ll get him on the show as well in helping to answer some of those questions. So yes, [email protected]. Just go over there and send the email and we’ll get your questions or any comments you may have on the show. I look forward to hearing from you guys, I mean like I said those are my favorite episodes to do.

Dave and I have already been talking about just topics for future shows. And that’s always the hardest thing, when you’ve gotten 76 shows deep, and you don’t want to repeat things over and over again. Listener generated stuff really helps. So I’m looking forward to hearing from you guys on that stuff.

And obviously having a new dynamic with Dave. He had a lot of ideas that I hadn’t even really thought of because he was just kind of thinking from a different angle. He’s actually the one that actually suggested doing the episode that just came out on the holidays, holiday sales, which is good because we were already kind of knee deep in planning for the holidays, which you guys should be doing as well. So hopefully there will be a cool dynamic there.

And actually just looking at a comment here on the live show that I’ll just kind of read. He says that Grant rocks, but he’s going to keep Mike in line. So Dave that’s up to you now to keep me in line. Dave knows my weakness, so he can just dangle like a shot of tequila in front of me, and I would just follow you.

Dave: I think your wife Michelle does a pretty good job of keeping you in line. So I’ll forward any request to her, then she can deal with you.

Mike: That’s fine. Grant never even went to that…

Dave: Pull the wife card?

Mike: Yeah, pull the wife card. He just played the angry Asian card. You never want to make any — even if they are small they still, they can put up a good fight. We all get away with these Asian jokes, because we are — Dave is married to a Chinese wife — got a Chinese wife. I got a Chinese wife, Grant is Chinese and like one of my best friends. I guess I was Chinese in one of my previous lives, I don’t know.

Dave: And I come from the domain Chineseimporting.com.

Mike: There you go. It’s actually; it’s in your blood.

Dave: Yeah.

Mike: So with the last couple of minutes we have left here today, are there any other things that you want to chat about real quick?

Dave: No, I mean, I guess maybe on a personal end, personal angle I guess, what are you hoping to get out of the big merge? Like if there is one or two things that you hope that we kind of achieve together that maybe we couldn’t have on our own, what would they be? Company on the spot here too.

Mike: Yeah, I mean that’s interesting. So I mean I think that a good part of it is, I mean just like I mentioned kind of early on quite frankly just Grant not being as much in the ecommerce has kind of been a struggle. So for me I’m excited, I’ve known you for a couple of years and I don’t think it’s ever going to be an issue where one day you are like, yeah I’m off working on my franchise or something. I mean we are both very committed, laser focused with ecommerce. So I think that’s going to be really cool.

Things to get out of it, it’s definitely a personal achievement or fun in some way. Like when I go to conferences and people walk up and say that they love listening to the show, that they get a lot out of it, trying to continue to build that audience. For me it’s also been just speaking has been fun, and in a way that – I mean you and I have talked about this in a personal level. I mean I don’t mind talking about it on the show but doing that is something that makes me look incredibly uncomfortable, and it’s fun kind of getting over that hump. And just like anything else in life, if you do stuff that’s difficult to just kind of breaking that challenge. It’s like I’m getting ready to — on this trip to Alaska. We’re going on a 30 mile backpacking trip. This is not something that makes me incredibly comfortable doing it. But I’m going to do it just kind of, just to have the experience doing it. And it’s been the same thing with the speaking engagements. And it’s probably a good time to just kind of mention some of the ones I’m going to, here coming up.

There is Ecommerce All stars, which Ezra Firestone puts on, and that’s on August 4th and 5th. I know he still has some tickets available. That’s a good example of the types of opportunities that have come from the podcast that I hope to continue to grow upon. I mean Ezra is obviously stable in this industry, someone that all of us look up to that does an amazing job with his site and content. And then Global Sources, which Dave may or not be attending with me in Hong Kong, October 17th and 19th. And then Ecommerce Fuel January 11th through 13th.

So yeah, I mean those are the kind of the things I look forward to. I also look forward to the classes. I mean we’ve talked about pricing them at a point that makes them accessible for as many people as possible. I’m not looking at it as a way to make a ton of money, although obviously we all are in business to make money. But I think that we both come from the same seed of like genuinely enjoying helping people. That I think is why it’s such a great opportunity.  

This wasn’t something that was possible in a previous industry that I was in where it was just too competitive to talk about anything you did. But in this industry it’s multiple trillions of dollars. And I think that by helping hundreds and hundreds of people potentially with the podcast and the blog, and the course, I guess actually thousands of people, I think the chances of any of them hurting our business in any way directly or indirectly are just so small that it makes it fun to do this stuff.

Dave: Yeah, I totally agree. And I think you talked about the live events. I think even that’s a probably an avenue at some point we’ll go down as not necessarily been holding it organized paid live events, but even doing this and more meet ups.

Mike: Yeah.

Dave: Smaller meet ups. I know we tried that a little bit in Hong Kong the last time we were there in April. And I think that was good kind of a stepping stone towards doing a little bigger meet up, hopefully where we can have a couple of dozen people at least, and get together in a restaurant or bar and actually just share ideas, and share thoughts in person. So that’s one of the things I hope that we can achieve out of this. And again I think that just kind of reiterates the whole point of not just building an audience, but kind of building a community. And I think that’s one of the things where Chinese Importing kind of we are at the tipping point, where we have the audience but not necessarily a community.

So that’s something that I hope we can achieve  – have a regular steady group of people that are visiting the website, commenting on the posts. Maybe we even have either a public or a private Facebook group where people can get a little bit more involved, and a little bit more interactive. And it’s hard to do until you reach a certain breaking point in terms of an audience size before you can actually build that community. So hopefully we are able to achieve something like that, kind of joining our brands.

Mike: Yeah, and I think it’s going to be really, really cool. So definitely everyone stay tuned for that. We’ll make some more announcements as that kind of comes along. I mean obviously the first thing we need to do is change the intro to the podcast, which we’ll do I guess when I get back from Alaska. Which will be weird because Dave will be — we already recorded here, but there will still be the older intro line there, and we still have Grant’s photo and stuff on the site.

But again no supper hurry to fix that. We are definitely in process of doing that. We also are working on like kind of a refresh look for the blog and stuff. So definitely excited to roll that out. We’ll keep everyone posted as we do with everything else. And I think that kind of wraps everything up Dave. Any other last minute thoughts?

Dave: No, I think you have a meeting here in about three minutes so.

Mike: Yup. Three minutes in real time, not when people are listening to this on Thursday. I’ll be in a mountain somewhere. But yeah, I do need to scoot and wrap up this episode. It’s been good and I hope everyone is looking forward to what we are doing.

Again please remember [email protected]. Shoot us a message. We’d love to hear from you either on things you want to see us write about, podcast topics, topics for courses, questions you might want answered on a Q&A episode, anything you can kind of think of. Shoot us a message. Let us know that you are out there, or even just to say hi. It’s always good to hear from our listeners. So shoot us an email there, [email protected].

Abby will be manning that for us and say hi to her as well. I haven’t met her in person yet, but I’ve Skyped with her a few times, she’s pretty awesome. And I look forward to forward to meeting her in October or November when I’m out in the Philippines.

So that’s it for this week. Again just remember I’m going to be on vacation. Dave and I recorded a couple of episodes in advance. So you all guys will have some great content the next couple of weeks. So when I get back from Alaska, we will get back into the live broadcast again, and we’ll go from there. So thanks everyone, and happy selling.

Dave: Take care guys.

Outro: If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. Head over to EcomCrew.com and sign up for the EcomCrew newsletter to get regular updates on what’s working in ecommerce today, and get the latest from our blog. If you haven’t already, we’d really appreciate an honest review in iTunes. These reviews help us make sure we’re delivering exactly the content you need to be successful. And make sure you subscribe to the show for more tips to move you up in the business ladder and into success. We’ll see you next week.

Mike and Grant

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